In this article of the Humble Entrepreneur Series, I am honored to introduce you to Hartono Lokodjoyo. Originally from Sragen, Central Java in Indonesia, Har has a most astonishing life story and lots of experience he will share with us.
As a city girl who knew nothing about farming, I was growing an interest in permaculture and organic farming practices. I also happenned to live in Bali back then and was lucky enough to meet Har at Har's Garden. Har's Garden is an iconic vegetable and fruit farm in the middle of Ubud in Bali where cunsumers can pick their own veggies fresh from the garden. It's a place to reconnect with the soil and to remember where our food comes from. It's also a place of education where Har accepts volunteers at times to work at the farm and skills people with workshops on virgin coconut oil extraction, healthy cooking and more.
I stayed at Har's Garden for about two months, between the farm and the jungle where he made me a bamboo platform to put my tent on. I bathed in the river with Balinese women every evening. We played the guitar and sang and drank arak most evenings and everything was so simple and wonderful. Har would tell me stories sometimes, he has many... We became such good friends that at his wedding I was put forward to greet his wedding guests in his hometown in Java, as part of the family.
Har has a truly inspiring life story growing up in extreme poverty which forced him to work at palm-oil plantations where he earned and saved a fortune, which was stolen from him on the ferry on the way back home to Java. After losing three years worth of hard work and savings, he stood up and started over. He is now a proud farmer and the owner of Bali’s most creative accommodation business; Har’s Tree Houses together with his Japanese wife Ryoko. He is extending his success to Sumba where he has recently acquired a large plot of land to build a school and teach children about farming.
DalyaNews spoke to Har about his approach to life and success story as a farmer.
1. Dear Har, please tell us about your story as an organic farming entrepreneur in Bali.
I started to study farming by myself and started to plant with an organic system since August 2007. Organic farming or gardening means planting without using any chemicals.
I learned by reading many books about organic farming, at that time around 2007, there weren’t as many articles / resources on the internet. I also learned from farmers in Bali who have implemented an organic system.
Besides learning from books and with other farmers, the most important was to practice what I learned and experiment.
In August 2020 it’s my 13th anniversary as an organic farmer, only using tradiyional hand held Javanese farming tools and zero farming technology.
I have gone through 30,000 hours of work in the garden. My biggest discovery is, as long as we see the grass growing, that means I don't need any fertilizer to plant anything in that place.
2. You have interest and practice in organic products. Why is that?
I love farming, I love working with plants, for me farming is a job that is never boring.
Working or doing business in the world of organic farming is the best job and the most noble job in my opinion. Why? Applying organic farming practices means I don't damage our mother natüre. I don't cause any harm to the ecosystem and my produce is of natural and good quality, which is healthy for the consumers.
Good work is work that brings benefits for myself, for others and also benefits the nature.
3. At Har's Garden and Har's Tree Houses, you serve self-grown food and drinks. What's the story of Har's Garden and Har's Tree Houses? Where do you get trendy, creative ideas for doing business in the organic industry?
I decided to make Tree Houses to live in and also to rent for tourists so that we can all feel one with the nature and experience what is lost. I don't want to use rice paddy land or productive land to make a housing. I want trees to remain, that is why in my home and farm there are trees that continue to grow.
Keeping trees growing is also beneficial for maintaining the availability of ground water. Moreover, trees are a place for maintaining ecosystems, trees and plants that can filter air pollution and water pollution.
At Har’s Garden and Har’s Tree Houses we provide fresh food and beverages straight from the organic farm. We want to serve healthy, simple, unique food which guests can,’t find elsewhere. One of my goal is that anyone who eats at Har’s Garden will always remember us and our place.
4. How do you see the future of organic produce?
I can see the future of organic produce is bright, things will improve with advances in technology and rapid development. I believe more and more people and families will switch to consume organic products.
5. Finally, what are your suggestions for young entrepreneurs in Indonesia? How can they get ideas and capital? What's the secret to your success?
Do your best, be honest, don't damage nature, don't harm anyone. What I believe is that good people live a good life. There are no secret formula to success, I just keep learning and trying to change or do better than yesterday. That is all.
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